Dave Maxwell -  A section of State Route 319 in the eastbound lane near the Panaca Summit is badly in need of repair.

Dave Maxwell –
A section of State Route 319 in the eastbound lane near the Panaca Summit is badly in need of repair.

Both county road supervisor Shane Cheeney and country Sheriff Kerry Lee expressed concern about a particular bad spot of road on State Route 319 when members of the Nevada Department of Transportation visited the county commission meeting in Pioche Aug. 1.

The spot is about 12 miles from Panaca in the eastbound lane. It’s a place that is sinking and breaking apart, primarily due to the continued use of the road by oversized loads, even some of the normal sized ones, being diverted onto U.S. 93 and SR 319 because they are too wide to travel on I-15 through the Virgin Valley Gorge.

Sondra Rosenberg, NDOT assistant director for planning in the Las Vegas office, and some of her staff were at the meeting to give the 2016 Transportation Report for Lincoln County.

Discussion eventually turned to the oversized truck traffic on SR 319. Commissioner Adam Katschke told the NDOT visitors he does not think they realize how damaging the trucks are to that section of road going over the Panaca Summit. “How can we get that on your work schedule? We are told the work in the gorge and having to detour oversized loads may continue for many more years.”

Sheriff Lee said the specific spot on the summit of 319, near the rest area, in his mind “was not only bad, it is dangerous. You drop your wheel into it and it’s a huge thing.” He said, “It started when all that traffic from when the I-15 freeway was flooded, (September, 2014), and over 70,000 vehicles had to come both ways on 319 in just three days.” He said repairs that have been made really have not solved the problem.

Cheeney said it will again be a problem this winter when heavy laden snow plows might hit that spot and maybe be toppled over.

“I hope it’s on somebody’s radar,” Lee said. “There are a couple of places where the road has been so eroded away there is no shoulder. The white line shoulder guide is actually painted on the dirt. There’s nothing left. Those two things combined are dangerous.” Then he asked, “If that is going to continue to be a detour route, why can’t that 20 miles from Panaca to the state line be fixed and made decent?”

Lee Bonner of NDOT said “That area is going to be fixed, and we’ll take a comprehensive look at the rest of it.”

Commission chair Kevin Phillips asked if the Arizona Department of Transportation, which is routing the traffic around the I-15 gorge, is going to pay for the damage they are causing on Nevada’s SR 319? Rosenberg said she did not think that was likely.